Matt's Reviews > The Panopticon

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
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's review

really liked it

A really satisfying and strange book about a troubled teen girl, Anais, as she tries to get a hold of her life while staying at a kind of at-risk facility, the Panopticon of the title. I have to say, it's the most positive emobidment of the panopticon project I think I've ever heard of, since the facility is mostly staffed by warm and caring people.

Part of what made this book really work for me was the willingness of Fagan to really commit to the voice. It took me a couple chapters to get used to the Scottish dialect, and then on top of that, our narrator is high and hallucinating a lot of the time, and then there's slang dripping over the whole thing, so it's the kind of book that definitely requires your attention to read (unless, maybe, you like in Scotland?). But I liked it, even though at the end I was still a little puzzled about some parts of the story-- what exactly is the birthday game, and why are the Experiment still around at the end of the book? What about the monk and his drawing of the cat with wings? Didn't that precede Anais' visit to see the old man at the madhouse? Or did I lose some crucial piece in there?

But in the rush of imagery and undiluted experience, I didn't care too much about needing to position every piece of the narrative. People for fifty years have been looking for the new Holden Caulfield; I think this is the first book I've read that comes close to that, in terms of the honesty of the voice and the reflection of what it feels like to be that age.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
October 11, 2013 – Shelved

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